The Philippines has lodged a new diplomatic protest against China, after Beijing’s government vessels issued a series of unlawful challenges against Philippine authorities who were conducting patrols in the West Philippine Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) made the announcement on Wednesday night, October 20, saying Chinese government vessels had carried out over 200 radio challenges, sounded sirens, and blared horns against Philippine vessels.
Patrols done by the Philippines in its own territory were “legitimate, customary, and routine,” it added, warning China’s “provocative acts threaten the peace, good order, and security of the South China Sea.
It was not immediately clear when challenges carried out by Chinese vessels took place. The DFA did not disclose details on the incident. Rappler will update this story with more information.
The protest announced on Wednesday came just weeks after Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the filing of three protests against China over infractions that included radio challenges, the restriction of Filipino fishermen from fishing in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), and the continued presence of Chinese ships in the vicinity of Iroquois Reef, some 125 nautical miles off the coast of Palawan.
The Philippines has recently increased its routine patrols in the South China Sea, sending ships out to several maritime features in the country’s waters more frequently in past months, according to tracking done by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (AMTI CSIS) in the United States.
But these pale in comparison to “China’s near-permanent coast guard and militia presence throughout the South China Sea,” AMTI CSIS said. Unlike China, the Philippines has limited numbers of vessels that could regularly patrol the country’s waters, including the West Philippine Sea.
Alongside this, the DFA has continued to protest China’s infractions in the West Philippine Sea, with at least 160 other protests filed under the Duterte administration, 143 of which were lodged since 2018, under Locsin’s post.
The series of Chinese violations aired on Wednesday are the latest to be publicly called out by the Philippines after tensions in the West Philippine Sea flared earlier this year, following the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing” presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels in several features in the West Philippine Sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, has largely chosen to continue downplaying China’s aggressive behavior in Philippine waters in favor or fostering warmer ties with Beijing. – Rappler.com